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Major expansion desired for convention center 

The City of Rochester will most likely look to a state competition to fund a $100 million expansion of the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center on East Main Street.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Upstate Revitalization Initiative will award $500 million each to three regions in Upstate New York. Regions have to submit their revitalization plans, including a list of the projects they want funded, by October 5.

The convention center opened in 1985. This would be its first expansion.

"There's a vibrancy and investment being made in downtown in general," says James Brown, executive director of the convention center, "and we need to take advantage of that. We're at an age now where if we don't commit to some upgrades and renovation work, we have the potential to start losing our current business and also not be able to take advantage of new, emerging markets... or even the national business markets."

The project would add about 60,000 square feet to the 100,000-square-foot convention center. The expansion would be built off the south end of the building, toward the Broad Street bridge.

It would add 20,000 square feet of exhibit space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 20,000-square-foot ballroom. The center already has a 10,000-square-foot ballroom. This second room would be built on top of the center's exhibit space, bringing the building up to four floors.

There is also talk of adding a direct, below-ground pedestrian connection between the center and the Blue Cross Arena, using the aqueduct.

"We've always been a proponent of that connection," Brown says, "because we've always felt that's a natural thing, and you see that in other cities."

Brown says that there's no back-up plan if the state funding doesn't come through.

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